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Tex. Dep't of Cmty. Affairs v. Burdine

Supreme Court of the United States

December 9, 1980, Argued ; March 4, 1981, Decided

No. 79-1764

Opinion

 [*249]   [***213]   [**1092]  JUSTICE POWELL delivered the opinion of the Court.

 This case requires us to address again the nature of the evidentiary burden placed upon the defendant in an employment  [*250]  discrimination suit brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U. S. C. § 2000e et seq.  The narrow question presented is whether, after the [****5]  plaintiff has proved a prima facie case of discriminatory treatment, the burden shifts to the defendant to persuade the court by a preponderance of the evidence that legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for the challenged employment action existed.

Petitioner, the Texas Department of Community Affairs (TDCA), hired respondent, a female, in January 1972, for the position of accounting clerk in the Public Service Careers Division (PSC). PSC provided training and employment opportunities in the public sector for unskilled workers. When hired, respondent possessed several years' experience in employment training. She was promoted to Field Services Coordinator in July 1972. Her supervisor resigned in November of that year, and respondent was assigned additional duties. Although she applied for the supervisor's position of Project Director, the position remained vacant for six months.

PSC was funded completely by the United States Department of Labor. The Department was seriously concerned about inefficiencies at PSC. 2 In February 1973, the Department notified the Executive Director of TDCA, B. R. Fuller, that it would terminate PSC the following month. TDCA officials, assisted [****6]  by respondent, persuaded the Department to continue funding the program, conditioned upon PSC's reforming its operations. Among the agreed conditions were the appointment of a permanent Project Director and a complete reorganization of the PSC staff. 3

After consulting with personnel within TDCA, Fuller hired  [*251]  a male from another division of the agency as Project Director. In reducing the PSC staff, he fired respondent along with two other employees, and retained another male, Walz, as the only professional employee in the division. It is undisputed that respondent had maintained her application for the position of Project Director and had requested to remain with TDCA. Respondent soon was rehired by TDCA and  [****7]  assigned to another division of the agency.  [***214]  She received the exact salary paid to the Project Director at PSC, and the subsequent promotions she has received have kept her salary and responsibility commensurate with what she would have received had she been appointed Project Director.

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450 U.S. 248 *; 101 S. Ct. 1089 **; 67 L. Ed. 2d 207 ***; 1981 U.S. LEXIS 75 ****; 49 U.S.L.W. 4214; 25 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 113; 25 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P31,544

TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY AFFAIRS v. BURDINE

Prior History:  [****1]  CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT.

Disposition:  608 F.2d 563, vacated and remanded.

CORE TERMS

prima facie case, non discriminatory reason, hired, reasons, trier of fact, qualifications, preponderance of evidence, burden of production, persuade, discriminatory, evidentiary, terminate, pretext, burden of persuasion, burden of proof, discriminated, promoted, rebutted, burdens, shifts, male

Labor & Employment Law, Discrimination, Actionable Discrimination, Disparate Treatment, General Overview, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Ultimate Burden of Persuasion, Burdens of Production, Inferences & Presumptions, Presumptions, Rebuttal of Presumptions, Evidence, Burden Shifting, Affirmative Action, Racial Discrimination, Remedies